[alert type=alert-blue]Technical details[/alert]
OS Windows Phone 8.1
Processor 1.2GHz quad-core
Screen 5 inches
Resolution 720 x 1280 pixels
Memory 1GB RAM
Micro SD compatible? Yes, up to 128GB
Rear-facing camera 10MP
Front-facing camera 0.9MP
Dimensions 139.4 x 70.7 x 8.5 mm
Battery 2,200 mAh
There’s a dirty secret in the mobile business: mid-range smartphones. They’re not quite a sham, but they’re almost always underpowered and overpriced, especially compared to the top end phones of the last year, which are usually greatly reduced in price as networks and retailers rush to get rid of their inventory. Meanwhile, truly low end smartphones continue to chip away from underneath with better and better specs and plummeting price tags.
Which is why the Nokia Lumia 830, the last smartphone to bear the Finnish company’s name after Microsoft’s acquisition of its hardware business, is such a disappointment. If you were hoping for an elegant encore, a reminder of why people loved and love Nokia for all these years, it’s not this. This is just another mid-range phone. Granted, Nokia’s legendary build quality shines through in the Lumia 830. This has the metal band and colour back of the flagship Lumia Icon phones (which you can pop off to insert an SD card). It’s durable, striking, and anything but a dull black slab, though the rear speaker quality leaves something to be desired compared to newer phones with front facing stereos.
The screen however is where the problems begin. While the 5-inch 720p HD display is large enough to watch long videos on or even read books on via the Kindle app (though you can make out the pixels), it’s also strikingly similar to the panel on the second generation Motorola Moto G Android phone, which costs more than £100 less.
Aside from the efficient 10 megapixel camera and 4G connectivity, it offers little in way of performance benefits over it either. In fact, with its meagre 1GB of RAM on board, the Lumia 830 runs 3D games from the Windows Phone store terribly – you’ll just have to stick to Candy Crush. Battery life isn’t bad – we found you can get a day and a half of use from it if you’re careful. But that still means charging every night, and Motorola’s excellent power saving mode puts the G in the same territory.
Of course, the comparison with Motorola’s phenomenal budget offering isn’t entirely fair: it run an entirely different OS, Android, which has many more apps and customisation options, but has something of a Wild West reputation, unlike headache free and sanitised Windows Phone. Which brings us to the software on the 830, Windows Phone 8.1, a deceptively big update to Microsoft’s mobile OS.
Apps have been rejigged, you can add your own photo to the tile Start screen, you can even swipe to type with the touchscreen keyboard, a useful option for one handed use. Then there’s voice assistant Cortana, named after the Halo video game character. Cortana is good fun, and certainly seems to be every bit as capable as Siri on iOS, letting you ask questions casually or dictate messages, and coping comfortably with a London accent at least.
That said, much of what’s new in 8.1 feels like Microsoft playing catch up – even Cortana. Windows Phone is still a platform neglected by software developers and services. Case in point: Dropbox, which has just launched an app for the platform, five whole years after its Android version was released. Five.
Pleasant as the Windows Phone UI is to use, this sort of problem will remain for some time to come. Unless you’re truly tied into Microsoft Office and Outlook, we’d pick Android and iOS over Windows Phone any day (even though there are no budget iPhones).
All in all, this isn’t a fond farewell to the Nokia name. More an awkward handshake before bumping into it again on the stairs on the way out.
Goodbye old friend. We’d prefer to remember you for Snake and unbreakable handsets than for your smartphones: we hope you understand.
The Nokia Lumia 830 isn’t quite the swan song we were hoping for. It’s not hugely affordable, and nor does the phone’s hardware make full use of that 4G connectivity. Mid-range mobiles seldom convince us of their reason to exist, and this final Nokia phone is no exception. Do yourself a solid and pick up a Motorola Moto G, or one of last year’s flagship Android phones instead.